THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
**1/2 (out of 5)
December 12, 2008
Keanu Reeves as KLAATU
Jennifer Connelly as HELEN BENSON
Kathy Bates as REGINA JACKSON
Jaden Smith as JACOB BENSON
John Cleese as PROFESSOR BARNHARDT
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I know that I’ll be slaughtering a sacred science fiction cow with this statement, but I never thought the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was that great. Sure, it was innovative for the day. Sure, it had an eerie and spooky theme song. Sure, it had one of the coolest robots from the 50s in it. But there were a lot of problems, too.
First of all, it was preachy. Oh God, was it preachy. At the end of the movie, Klaatu (played by Michael Rennie) literally stands up in front of the military, scientists and heads of state to preach to them about how they needed to stop nuclear proliferation. Then it had the warped, mixed message of faux peace, basically saying that the Earth was on probation and we would be wiped out by this fascist race of robots (who knew what was best for us) if we didn’t comply.
There were other problems, including the annoying kid that bonded (at time in a seemingly inappropriate way) with Klaatu. Also, as cool as Gort was, he really didn’t get much screen time, considering he was encased in a polymer box through half of the film.
With all that said, I think the 2008 remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” captured the tone and spirit of the original rather well. All of my complaints about the new movie are generally the same as with the original.
In this film, Keanu Reeves plays Klaatu, a cloned human housing an alien mind. Klaatu has traveled to Earth with his giant robot Gort to save the planet from its inhabitants. It’s up to the pretty scientist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) to convince Klaatu to spare the human race.
The best part of this movie is Keanu Reeves. He plays an alien who doesn’t talk much and shows no emotion. I really think he has found his perfect role.
Aside from the former Ted S. Preston, Esq., this film’s strongest moments are in the first hour or so. It has a real modern alien invasion feel, reminiscent of “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds.” Sadly, by the time the story turns to the clones Klaatu and away from the spherical ship landing in Central Park, the characters don’t hold up.
There were a few other problems with this new movie. Too many CGI helicopters for my taste. In fact, most of the outdoor effect scenes looked fake and manufactured. I’ve seen better visual effects on lesser films.
There was also an annoying amount of product placement, with everything from McDonalds to Microsoft Windows. I can take a little bit of this, but “The Day the Earth Stood Still” seemed more like a two-hour commercial for various brand names than an actual film.
And while it had the same feel as Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds,” it was too similar at times. There are scenes in this film that look like they were shot in the same locations as “War of the Worlds,” and other that are just plain rip-offs of the camera set-ups.
Still, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” isn’t an entire waste of time. I’m sure the filmmakers figured they were making a movie that would really make people think, but I implore you to not think at all when watching this film. The logic is terrible. The moral compass is out of whack. And the general flow of the story and actions of the characters are sometimes downright silly.
Don’t think at all when and if you go see it. Check your sensibilities at the door, and leave with them your logic and disbelief. As a slice of big holiday movie escapism, you might enjoy “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Unfortunately, it’s not as powerful and significant as the original was, so the fans will be disappointed. And it’s not enough of a blockbuster thriller to give make it a hit outside of its opening weekend.